Miriam Black is an early 20-something drifter with bleach blonde hair and a surprising ability to hold her own in a fight. She also knows when and precisely how you’re going to die. Only if you touch her skin-on-skin though. And it’s because of this skill that Miriam became a drifter. You try dealing with seeing that every time you touch someone. But when a kind trucker gives her a lift and in her vision of his death she hears him speak her name, her entire crazy life takes an even crazier turn.
This is one of those books that is very difficult to categorize. I want to call it urban fantasy, but it doesn’t have much supernatural about it, except for the ability to see deaths. The world isn’t swimming in vampires or werewolves of goblins. I also want to call it a thriller what with the whole try to stop the trucker from dying bit but it’s so much more than chills and whodunit (or in this case, who will do it). Its dark, gritty style reminds me of Palahniuk, so I suppose what might come the closest would be a Palahniuk-esque urban fantasy lite thriller. What I think sums it up best, though, is a quote from Miriam herself:
It starts with my mother….Boys get fucked up by their fathers, right? That’s why so many tales are really Daddy Issue stories at their core, because men run the world, and men get to tell their stories first. If women told most of the stories, though, then all the best stories would be about Mommy Problems. (location 1656)
So, yes, it is all of those things, but it’s also a Mommy Problems story, and that is just a really nice change of pace. Mommy Problems wrapped in violence and questioning of fate.
The tone of the entire book is spot on for the type of story it’s telling. Dark and raw with a definite dead-pan, tongue-in-cheek style sense of humor. For instance, each chapter has an actual title, and these give you a hint of what is to come within that chapter, yet you will still somehow manage to be surprised. The story is broken up by an interview with Miriam at some other point in time, and how this comes into play with the rest of the storyline is incredibly well-handled. It’s some of the best story structuring I’ve seen in a while, and it’s also a breath of fresh air.
Miriam is also delightful because she is unapologetically ribald and violent. This is so rare to find in heroines.
We’re not talking zombie sex; he didn’t come lurching out of the grave dirt to fill my living body with his undead baby batter. (location 2195)
As a female reader who loves this style, it was just delightful to read something featuring a character of this style who is also a woman. It’s hard to find them, and I like that Wendig went there.
While I enjoyed the plot structure, tone, and characters, the extreme focus on fate was a bit iffy to me. There were passages discussing fate that just fell flat for me. I’m also not sure of how I feel about the resolution. However, I’m also well aware that this is the beginning of a series, so perhaps it’s just that the overarching world rules are still a bit too unclear for me to really appreciate precisely what it is that Miriam is dealing with. This is definitely the first book in the series in that while some plot lines are resolved, the main one is not. If I’d had the second book to jump right into I would have. I certainly hope that the series ultimately addresses the fate question in a satisfactory way, but at this point it is still unclear if it will.
Overall, this is a dark, gritty tale that literally takes urban fantasy on a hitchhiking trip down the American highway. Readers who enjoy a ribald sense of humor and violence will quickly latch on to this new series. Particularly recommended to readers looking for strong, realistic female leads.
4 out of 5 stars
Thor, the son of Odin of Asgard, is more than ready to take the throne, but his father, not to mention his younger brother Loki, believes he’s too arrogant. Thor gets banished to earth and finds himself at the mercy of a young astrophysicist studying what appear to be wormholes.
Thor had a huge opening weekend and with good reason. The classic mythology mixed with science is an interesting change from the machine suits of Iron Man and the web spinning of Spiderman, yet it still allows for awe-inducing action sequences that put the 3D technology to good use.
The storyline isn’t incredibly complex, but it is unpredictable enough to remain entertaining. The movie definitely ends with enough strings left hanging to easily make a sequel, as indeed Hollywood is probably planning on doing. Although strings left untied usually annoy me in movies, they simply don’t bother me in the Marvel movies. These are huge series they’re adapting, and it honestly makes me happy to think that I’ll have more and more Thor movies to go see.
The acting was quite good, if we ignore the hideous fake British accents all gods in Hollywood movies seem to be forced to use. What is with that? Is it supposed to make us think they’re older or something? It was kind of giggle-inducing, which wasn’t entirely a bad thing. In any case, the acting was very good with a fairly decent cast including Natalie Portman and Anthony Hopkins. Chris Hemsworth certainly did his part in beefing up for the role of a hunky Norse god. Ladies and gay gentlemen, you will not be disappointed in getting to watch him run around the screen for a couple of hours.
The special effects were very good. Things fly at the screen, but the director doesn’t go out of the way to make that happen. The storm clouds look amazing, as do the Ice Giants. Frankly, I could find nothing wrong with the special effects.
Overall, although Thor is a bit kitschy, it’s still a highly enjoyable start to the summer action blockbusters. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good action flick with a side of kitsch.
4 out of 5 stars
Source: Movie theater